How to make better gluten-free bread

Demand for gluten-free foods is growing and, with bread being an important staple food, consumer demand for good quality gluten free bread is driving the development of suitable wheat bread substitutes. A recent Open Access review looks at research advances that are supporting better breads in the gluten-free category, with a specific focus on rice-based recipes.

Because the quality of bread typically depends on the properties and functionality of gluten, bread made without using wheat flour or gluten remains far inferior. Bread made from gluten-free cereal flour typically results in a runny batter rather than viscoelastic dough, as proteins in these cereals do not possess the network-forming properties found in gluten. The review outlines several approaches in the development of gluten-free bread, focussing primarily on the use of various hydrocolloids that form a membrane surrounding the air bubbles released during fermentation.

With regard to bread made from rice flour, the review author considers the lack of the mouth-watering aroma compared to that of freshly baked wheat bread, and suggest more needs to be done to ascertain whether this is inevitable or if better selection of ingredients or an improved bread-making procedure could lead to improved aroma and flavour of rice-based bread.

The review also sets out the social and scientific context of the research efforts, assessing the importance of better bread quality (flavour, texture, and volume), reduced production cost, and wider availability in supporting improved quality of life for those restricted to a gluten-free diet.